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Vancouver Washington Social Security Disability Law Blog

The danger of a chained-CPI for the disabled

If you depend on Social Security for retirement income, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, or are on military disability, an important part of your benefit is the Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA). If you did not have a COLA on your benefit payment, if you live long enough, you would eventually see a 10 or 20 percent cut in the spending power of your income over time.

Even with a low inflation rate, inflation would chip away at the already minimal benefit payments and cause a severe hardship for retired and disabled individuals. Paul Ryan would like to change how the COLA is calculated, using that "savings" to direct more tax money to the Pentagon.

Is HIV/AIDS listed on SSDI's compassionate allowances?

The quick answer is no. But simply because the condition is not listed on the compassionate allowances does not mean that Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are not available for those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.

However, it does mean your path to obtaining those benefits will be somewhat more complex. This is because the Social Security Administration (SSA) will need to see detailed medical evidence that proves that you have HIV/AIDS.

Disabled workers need help working

Programs to help the disabled have to negotiate a fine line between providing sufficient support for those who cannot work or earn income because of their disability and providing services that could enable those who may be able to return to some type of work.

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is often criticized by because so few people leave the program after they obtain their SSDI benefits. Those who are familiar with the program understand that there are many factors that influence that fact.

Does the SSA view Fibromyalgia as a basis for SSDI benefits?

Fibromyalgia (FM) can be a terrible disease. It can strip the sufferer of their energy and leave them permanently exhausted, even after a full night's sleep, making them depressed and anxious, with chronic, widespread pain that seems to emanate from everywhere, yet nowhere in particular.

They have difficulty making up a few steps and in this condition, they have to mount a compelling case to the Social Security Administration (SSA) in order to obtain disability benefits. No wonder they are depressed.

SSDI solutions really are not very difficult

What is really remarkable when it comes to all of the fevered discussions over Social Security and what can be done to "save" the program, is how little actually needs to be done. Congress is likely to undergo a prolonged period of wailing and gnashing of teeth concerning how to solve the expected shortfall in the Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) program when the trust fund that covers part of the cost of SSDI is exhausted in the next few years.

Congress could go in and make real modifications to the funding formula and the tax rates that pay for both the retirement program, technically known as Old Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) and the SSDI program. They both receive their funding from the payroll tax, or FICA tax, that you see deducted on your paycheck.

Chance disabilities, chance meetings

No one chooses to become disabled. And few, it seems, plan for it. How many people do you know fund their own long-term disability insurance program? Even a well-featured policy may provide a significant reduction in your living standard. Nonetheless, people become disabled, planned or not.

This example comes from across the country, in Maine, but there are many similar cases involving residents in Vancouver, Portland and across Washington and Oregon. In this case, a couple happened to meet in a park, as the man was interested in getting a dog, and the woman had two dogs with her.

They hit it off and in six months were married. They shared something else. They were both disabled. They had suffered physical disabilities in the prime of their working years and were laid low by unexpectecd diseases. She had suffered multiple sclerosis at age 42, and he had suffered a stroke at 47. 

The SSA decides disability status

Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) is often misunderstood. Some believe it is similar to unemployment insurance and that if you are out of work, you can just apply and receive benefits. Others believe they can go and see a doctor, and the doctor will determine they are disabled and they can then send that information to the Social Security Administration (SSA) to obtain their SSDI benefits.

Both of those understandings are incorrect. It is always the SSA that determines whether an applicant meets the requirements of the statutory definition of disability. But, and this is very important, the SSA uses your medical records and documentation to arrive at that determination.

Opioid use by SSDI beneficiaries seen as troubling by doctors

As the Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) program has grown, the claims stemming from musculoskeletal and related connective tissue diseases have increased. These medical conditions include such things as back pain, osteoporosis and arthritis.

This is not surprising. Today there is a large cohort of aging workers who have been employed in jobs place a great strain on their back, whether in construction, landscaping, healthcare aides or warehouses. This type of work can cause incremental damage to a back, eventually leaving the worker with musculoskeletal impairments and chronic back pain.

SSDI program helps eliminate fraud from program

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a large, complex program that provides benefit payments to disabled workers. Over the last 40 years, Congress has expanded the numbers and types of medical conditions that create eligibility for the program.

In addition, with the aging of the baby boom generation and the entry of increasing numbers of women into the workforce, the program has grown.

Congress has always been more generous with offering benefits than it has been at creating funding mechanisms. Concerns have existed for virtually that entire period, and Congress, for the most part, has ignored the problem.

OIG finds SSDI applications often missing documents

When you apply for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits, you have to complete the application form that requires information regarding your work history, education and training, and the medical condition or conditions that are causing your disability.

While it sounds reasonably straightforward, the type of medical issues can add complexity. If you are applying for disability benefits based on an illness or medical condition, like lung cancer or heart diseases, you may have a few very explicit documents that provide clear medical evidence of your condition and allow a rapid approval of your claim.

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